Trigger Warning: This article will talk about sensitive topics. Reader discretion is advised.
This past week has been overwhelming with two celebrities who committed suicide. Now I only really know the two by name, having never bought a Kate spade product or even watched Anthony Bourdain’s cooking show, nevertheless my fb newsfeed has been filled with platitudes about their deaths. Their suicides are raising awareness around mental health and suicide but I do wonder, how long until this fades to the back burner. A week? Two weeks?
One of the things I have been thinking about with these two individuals who committed suicide is what leads people to go down this path. We can cite statistics about depression, bi-polar disorder, bullying, PTSD etc but we are not really digging deep into the psyche of an individual’s mind. Of course this is hard to do but one theme that almost all people who contemplate, attempt, and/or successfully complete suicide is a feeling of being stuck in a cycle of hopelessness.
In a world filled with social media we can constantly have a glimpse into someone else’s life. The nature of social media being what it is, means that people overwhelming share the positives and when people do open up and talk about things not going so well, well they are often mocked or teased for “attention seeking”. As if seeking attention is something bad. Hmph! We all know that one of the things all people crave is a sense of belonging-community-not feeling alone. So if someone is out there “attention seeking” perhaps it’s their way of trying to find support-community-a sense of belonging.
But I digress!
Most people go through tough times and pull through. Now going through something tough is subjective and means different things to different people, but the feelings that go along with the struggle are a common connection. Feeling stuck, sad, angry, helpless, hopeless, lost, confused, and overwhelmed are just a few emotions that a person may feel. They may be feeling so much that it’s hard to even name a feeling but they want to escape it. They may use food, alcohol, drugs, exercise, tv, books, or sex, to name few, just to try to feel better even temporarily. But you cannot outrun your feelings, nor your problems. They will catch up to you and then what?
Some stressors that may send someone spiraling into a dark place are: break up/divorce from significant other, loss of employment, homelessness, food/housing insecurity, death/loss of a loved one, depression, PTSD, sexual assault/rape, and more.Faced with these stressors and the abundance of emotions, suicide may seem like a viable option to stop their pain and suffering.
For many they reach out to loved ones seeking support and they receive support that helps them through tough times. But for those who do not have support (for a variety of reasons) what is their recourse? How can they move out of the dark space when there is no light shinning, directing them where to go? For many sadly, suicide, remains the recourse to escape their pain.
So what can you do, as a person who knows someone who is struggling, or if you’re a person who is currently struggling and hasn’t found the light. As scary and cliche as it may sound, talking about it can be the first step. Finding a skilled and empathetic mental health professional who can provide you the safe space to unpack your thoughts and your feelings is important. Finding connection through religion/spirituality, friends, and or family is another option. The biggest obstacle will be in finding that safe space, but it is out there. One place you can start, is my contacting the national suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) and speaking to someone there.
This article is meant for educational purposes and is not a substitute for therapy. If you or someone you know is struggling and contemplating suicide please contact the national suicide hotline at: 1-800-273-8255.